Adani Australia has received a go ahead from Minister for the Environment Melissa Price for the groundwater management plans at its Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure project in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.
The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) requires that Adani ensure the protection of the Doongmabulla Springs and animals that rely on the groundwater in the area surrounding the mine.
It is one of two outstanding management plans requiring the Queensland Government’s approval for Carmichael’s construction and mining to commence, according to Adani.
The last remaining management plan Adani still needs to secure concerns a local and protected bird species in the region, the black-throated finch.
However, Environment Minister Price said nine further environmental plans are yet to be finalised for Adani to commence construction. The Federal and Queensland Governments have only finalised or approved 16 of 25 environmental plans to date.
“This project has been subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia,” Price said.
“Approvals for the project by the Commonwealth in 2015 and the Queensland State Government in 2016 resulted in the setting of 180 strict conditions to protect the environment.”
The GDEMP was independently evaluated by Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and has gone through 11 assessment rounds with both the Australian and Queensland Governments, according to Adani.
Geoscience and CSIRO identified areas of improvement including the Doongmabulla Springs for a better protection of the surrounding environment, an advice which Adani has “accepted in full”, according to Price.
Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow praised the federal department’s decision to approve the GDEMP while criticising the Queensland Government for its perceived indecision over the approvals process.
“[The] Queensland Government has continued to shift the goal posts when it comes to finalising the outstanding environmental management plans for the mine and is standing in the way of thousands of jobs for Queenslanders,” Dow said.
“It’s time the Queensland Government gave us a fair go and stopped shifting the goal posts so we can get on with delivering these jobs.”
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) meanwhile called the environmental nod a milestone for the project’s lengthy approval process.
“The project has been under the scrutiny of government agencies in Brisbane and Canberra under both sides of politics over the last nine years,” the QRC said in a statement.
“Any politicisation of the approval processes for the Carmichael Coal project cast doubt over all proposed projects, their planned investment and their promised jobs.”
Adani’s project has been controversial among environmentalists such as the Stop Adani movement, Lock the Gate and Greenpeace Australia, which voiced its objection to the approval on Tuesday April 9 on Twitter.
“While Australia suffers through drought, the Coalition have just approved a plan to hand billions of litres of precious groundwater to the reckless Adani coal project,” Greenpeace wrote.